The Testament of Naphtali

the eighth son of Jacob and Bilhah

Chapter 1

1:1 “A copy of the testament of Naphtali, which he decreed at the time of his death in the one hundred thirty-second year of his life.”
1:2 “When his sons were gathered together in the seventh month, on the fourth day of the month, and he was in good health, he gave a feast and drinking party.”
1:3 “After he awoke early the next morning, he told them, I am dying, but they did not believe him.”
1:4 “And while he was blessing the Lord he confirmed that after the previous day’s feast he would die.”
1:5 “Then he began to say to his sons, Listen, my children, sons of Naphtali, hear your father’s words.”
1:6 “I was born from Bilhah; Rachel acted by trickery, giving Bilhah to Jacob in place of herself, and she bore me on the knees of Rachel, for which reason she called me Naphtali.”
1:7 “Rachel loved me because I was born in her lap; while I was tender in appearance she would kiss me and say, May I see a brother of yours, like you, from my own womb.”
1:8 “Thus Joseph was like me in every way, in keeping with Rachel’s prayer.”
1:9 “But my mother was Bilhah, daughter of Rotheos, Deborah’s brother, nurse of Rebecca; she was born the very day on which Rachel was born.”
1:10 “Rotheos was of Abraham’s tribe, a Chaldean, one who honored God, free and well-born,”
1:11 “But he was taken captive and bought by Laban, who gave him Aina, his servant girl, as a wife. She bore a daughter and called her Zelpha from the name of the village in which he had been taken captive.”
1:12 “After that she bore Bilhah, saying, My daughter is ever eager for new things; No sooner had she been born than she hurried to start sucking.”

Chapter 2

2:1 “Since I was light on my feet like a deer, my father, Jacob, appointed me for all missions and messages, and as a deer he blessed me.”
2:2 “For just as a potter knows the pot, how much it holds, and brings clay for it accordingly, so also the Lord forms the body in correspondence to the spirit, and instills the spirit corresponding to the power of the body.”
2:3 “And from one to the other there is no discrepancy, not so much as a third of a hair, for all the creation of the Most High was according to height, measure, and standard.”
2:4 “And just as the potter knows the use of each vessel and to what it is suited, so also the Lord knows the body to what extent it will persist in goodness, and when it will be dominated by evil.”
2:5 “For there is no form or conception which the Lord does not know since he created every human being according to his own image.”
2:6 “As a person’s strength, so also is his work; as is his mind, so also is his skill. As is his plan, so also is his achievement; as is his heart, so is his speech; as is his eye, so also is his sleep; as is his soul, so also is his thought, whether on the Law of the Lord or on the law of Beliar/Satan.”
2:7 “As there is a distinction between light and darkness, between seeing and hearing, thus there is a distinction between man and man and between woman and woman. One cannot say they are one in appearance or rank,”
2:8 “For God made all things good in their order; the five senses in the head; to the head he attached the neck, in addition to the hair for the enhancement of appearance; then the heart for prudence; the belly for excretion from the stomach; the windpipe for health; the liver for anger; the gallbladder for bitterness; the spleen for laughter; the kidneys for craftiness; the loins for power; the lungs for the chest; the hips for strength and so on.”
2:9 “Thus my children, you exist in accord with order for a good purpose in fear/reverence of God; do nothing in a disorderly manner, arrogantly, or at an inappropriate time.”
2:10 “If you tell the eye to hear, it cannot; so you are unable to perform the works of light while you are in darkness.”

Chapter 3

3:1 “Do not strive to corrupt your actions through avarice or to beguile your souls by empty phrases, because those who are silent in purity of heart will be able to hold fast God’s will and to shunt aside the will of Beliar/Satan.”
3:2 “Sun, moon, and stars do not alter their order; thus you should not alter the Law of God by the disorder of your actions.”
3:3 “The gentiles/nations, because they wandered astray and forsook the Lord, have changed the order, and have devoted themselves to stones and sticks, patterning themselves after wandering spirits.”
3:4 “But you, my children, shall not be like that: In the firmament, in the earth, and in the sea, in all the products of his workmanship discern the Lord who made all things, so that you do not become like Sodom, which departed from the order of nature.”
3:5 “Likewise the Watchers departed from nature’s order; the Lord pronounced a curse on them at the Flood. On their account he ordered that the earth be without dweller or produce.”

Chapter 4

4:1 “I say these things, my children, because I have read in the writing of holy Enoch that you also will stray from the Lord, living in accord with every wickedness of the gentiles/nations and committing every lawlessness of Sodom.”
4:2 “The Lord will impose captivity upon you; you shall serve your enemies there and you will be engulfed in hardship and difficulty until the Lord will wear you all out.”
4:3 “And after you have been decimated and reduced in number, you will return and acknowledge the Lord your God.”
4:4 “And it shall happen that when they come into the land of their fathers, they will again neglect the Lord and act impiously,”
4:5 “And the Lord will disperse them over the face of the whole earth until the mercy of the Lord comes, a man who effects righteousness, and he will work mercy on all who are far and near.”

Chapter 5

5:1 “In the fortieth year of my life, I saw on the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem that the sun and the moon stood still.”
5:2 “And behold, Isaac, my father’s father, was saying to us, Run forth, seize them, each according to his capacity; to the one who grasps them will the sun and the moon belong.”
5:3 “All of them ran, but Levi seized the sun and Judah, outstripping the others, grasped the moon. Thus they were exalted above others.”
5:4 “Levi became like the sun, a certain young man gave him twelve date palms.”
5:5 “And Judah became luminous like the moon, and twelve rays were under his feet. Then running toward the others, Levi and Judah seized them.”
5:6 “And behold, there was a bull on the earth with two great horns and an eagle’s wing on his back. They tried to lay hold of him, but were unable.”
5:7 “But Joseph overtook them and seized him and went up with him into the heights.”
5:8 “And I looked, since I was there, and behold a sacred writing appeared to us, which said, Assyrians, Medes, Persians, Elamites, Gelachians, Chaldeans, Syrians shall obtain a share in the twelve staffs of Israel through captivity.”

Chapter 6

6:1 “And again after the seven months I saw our father, Jacob, standing by the sea at Jamnia and we, his sons, were with him.”
6:2 “And behold a ship came sailing past full of dried fish, without sailor or pilot.”
6:3 “Inscribed on it was ‘The Ship of Jacob.’ So our father said to us, Get into the boat.”
6:4 “As we boarded it, a violent tempest arose, a great windstorm, and our father, who had been holding us on course, was snatched away from us.”
6:5 “After being tossed by the storm, the boat was filled with water and carried along on the waves until it broke apart.”
6:6 “Joseph escaped in a light boat while we were scattered about on ten planks; Levi and Judah were on the same one.”
6:7 “Thus we were dispersed, even to the outer limits.”
6:8 “Levi, putting on sack cloth, prayed to the Lord in behalf of all of us.”
6:9 “When the storm ceased, the ship reached the land, as though at peace.”
6:10 “Then Jacob, our father, approached, and we all rejoiced with one accord.”

Chapter 7

7:1 “These two dreams I recounted to my father, and he replied, These things must be fulfilled at their appropriate time, once Israel has endured many things.”
7:2 “Then my father said, I believe that Joseph is alive, for I continually see that the Lord includes him in the number with you.”
7:3 “And he kept saying tearfully, You live, Joseph, my son, and I do not see you, nor do you behold Jacob who begot you.”
7:4 “He made me shed tears by these words of his. I was burning inwardly with compassion to tell him that Joseph had been sold, but I was afraid of my brothers.”

Chapter 8

8:1 “Behold, my children, I have shown you the last times, all things that will happen in Israel.”
8:2 “Command your children that they be in unity with Levi and Judah, for through Judah will salvation arise for Israel, and in him will Jacob be blessed.”
8:3 “Through his kingly power God will appear [dwelling among men on the earth], to save the race of Israel, and to assemble the righteous from among the nations.”
8:4 “If you achieve the good, my children, men and angels will bless you; and God will be glorified through you among the gentiles/nations. The devil will flee from you; wild animals will be afraid of you, and the angels will stand by you.”
8:5 “Just as anyone who rears a child well is held in good esteem, so also there will be a virtuous recollection on the part of God for your good work.”
8:8 “The one who does not do the good, men and angels will curse, and God will be dishonored among the gentiles/nations because of him, the devil will inhabit him as his own instrument. Every wild animal will dominate him, and the Lord will hate him.”
8:9 “And there are the two commandments: Unless they are performed in proper sequence they leave one open to the greatest sin. It is the same with the other commandments.”
8:10 “So be wise in the Lord and discerning, knowing the order of his commandments, what is ordained for every act, so that the Lord will love you.”

Chapter 9

9:1 “He gave them many similar instructions, urging them to transfer his bones to Hebron and bury him with his fathers.”
9:2 “He ate and drank in soulful glee, covered his face, and died. And his sons acted in accord with the things commanded by their father, Naphtali.”

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